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Dubai Online Casinos

DubaiAs the largest city of the United Arab Emirates (or UAE), Dubai has become well-known throughout the world as one of the most important places of business in the Middle East. To many, the city and the UAE are almost synonymous, and while that’s not quite accurate, it’s an understandable misconception: along with Abu Dhabi, it is one of only two of the seven emirates that make up the nation that have veto power over legislation due to their importance.

When it comes to matters of gaming, however, Dubai follows essentially the same rules as the rest of the country. That means you’ll see virtually no gambling here – the strict Islamic government leaves no wiggle room in its laws for betting activity to flourish. That has led many would-be gamblers in the country to seek greener pastures on the internet, where there are many foreign online casinos that accept players from Dubai and the rest of the UAE.

Religious Opposition to Betting Results in Prohibition

You cannot gamble legally in Dubai, much as you cannot do so anywhere else in the UAE. The reasoning behind this is clear: like many other Muslim nations, the culture and government of this country are severely against gambling, taking the view that playing games of chance is one of the greater sins. Of course, this doesn’t mean that no Muslims ever gamble, or that all scholars are in complete agreement over what is banned or what is not. But betting with real money involved is pretty clearly disapproved of on religious grounds, so Islamic nations are fairly uniform in their bans on such activity.

That means that there are no casinos in Dubai, despite the fact that there is a significant amount of business travel and tourism coming into the area. You also won’t find any lotteries, legal sports betting opportunities, or card rooms here – all brick-and-mortar betting is strictly prohibited.

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That said, there are some activities that could easily be turned into betting enterprises if the government was interested in allowing it to happen. Most obviously, there is horse racing, which takes place at several tracks in the area. The Meydan Racecourse is perhaps the most famous arena, featuring both dirt and turf tracks in which local Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds from around the world compete – sometimes for huge cash prizes. The biggest race of the season is the Dubai World Cup, which has seen some of the world’s best horses compete for millions of dollars.

Alas, while bettors around the world are fond of wagering on this and other contests that take place in the city, there is no way to bet on these races while in the UAE – at least not legally. And while it may seem tempting to find someone else to take your bet, we’d have to caution against that, given the very strict laws in the country against illegal gambling. Serious punishments, including long prison sentences, await those caught running illegal gaming establishments, and even those caught placing bets at these locations can face some jail time or hefty fines.

That’s not to say that some people haven’t tried to place bets here, nor that there aren’t some underground operations that have sprung up to service those who just can’t help themselves. Stories crop up not only about gambling in the city, but of high stakes games that can cost players millions of dollars. For instance, one recent story concerned a son of an Iraqi Kurdish leader who supposedly lost more than $3 million in a single night in Dubai, despite the lack of any real gaming industry there.

No Local Online Sites, But Foreign Operations Common

Given the UAE’s strong ethical stance against all forms of gaming, it would be shocking to find out that they condoned online gambling – and, of course, they do not. The prohibitions in place extend to the Internet, and strong cyber-security laws have been passed to ensure that there are specific rules against running online gambling sites in the country.

But even those laws have done little to deter foreign operators from targeting residents here, and unlike in some other Middle Eastern nations, there has been little done to block players from accessing these sites. That means that, in practice, many firms view Dubai as just another grey market, and players have been able to freely wager real money on a variety of casino games and other gambling enterprises on these offshore sites.

Not all of the world’s biggest gaming firms offer their games here: some of the largest companies are wary of venturing into markets where there is no way to earn a license or otherwise get governmental approval, as that could threaten their efforts in regulated markets. But there are still plenty of reputable software developers who license out their games to dozens of trustworthy online casinos in Dubai, making it easy to find a safe place to play. Just a few of the top providers that power online gambling sites in Dubai include:

  • Microgaming
  • Playtech
  • Betsoft
  • Play’n GO
  • NetEnt

Deeply Held Convictions Will Maintain Status Quo

If you’re hoping to see more liberal gaming policy come to Dubai anytime soon, we’re sorry to disappoint you, but there is very little chance of this happening. Sure, the UAE may be one of the friendlier and welcoming nations in the region, open for business for people around the world and maintaining a diverse population that includes a high number of expatriates. But at its core, it is still a religious nation with strongly-held beliefs that aren’t likely to change for a very long time.

Even the kinds of pressures that could bring gambling to similarly conservative locations in the Muslim world someday are unlikely to be factors here. If the nation rounds out of oil reserves, that will hardly matter: oil sales make up only a small percentage of their economy. Dubai won’t need legalized gaming to bring in more visitors, as tourism is already a major part of the local economy.

Is it possible that this could change someday? Sure, and among the countries in its region, the UAE may be one of the more likely candidates for a casino somewhere down the road. But any such move is a very long way away, and there would need to be some rather drastic changes in its culture before this became a realistic possibility.

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